Santa Shortage: Helpers hit with illness and COVID despite high demand


CHARLOTTE (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — While Santa is gearing up for his trip to deliver gifts around the globe, those who lighten the load by greeting kids weeks and days leading up to the holiday are facing a different kind of demand.

When it comes to Saint Nick, Doug Eberhart does not disappoint.

He’s been helping Santa spread Christmas Joy since the age of 14 with a little help from his mother.

“She made my first three suits, and after the third one, she said, I am not making them anymore,” the owner of Rent A Santa said.

Pent up demand for his presence at parties has him getting in and out of costume multiple times a day.

“Tomorrow, I have five, five on Thursday, and six on Friday,” Eberhart said.

He said he had to turn down about 150 requests this season, and those looking for a stand-in aren’t finding many other options. Unlike Santa, the men behind the suits and hats aren’t immune to sickness and COVID.

“We have a Santa in here… we lost a Santa last year that passed away, and he was older,” Eberhard said. “Most of us are heavy set or diabetic or we have other issues as we get older.”

It’s a fact of life that even the most cheerful of helpers can’t avoid, but Eberhart is working to keep the Santa tradition alive by teaching people how to become a helper.

“We take people that want to become Santa, other Santa’s helpers and we offer two different schools,” he said. “It’s really about the joy of seeing kids come rushing up to you, knowing that they believe that you are the one that provides gifts to the children of the world.”

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